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Ron is in the Hall.  About stinkin’ time! Ron Santo was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.

Ron Santo Hall of Fame Third Baseman for the Chicago Cubs

I blogged about Ron Santo after his passing last year (Ron Santo 1940-2010).  He has long been passed by in voting even though his numbers are very similar to Brooks Robinson.  Carrie Muskat reported:

“Hall of Famer Billy Williams, Santo’s former teammate, was on the 16-member Golden Era Committee, and campaigned for the third baseman. Williams was joined on the committee by Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson, Don Sutton. Major League executives Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt, Roland Hemond, Gene Michael and Al Rosen, and veteran media members Dick Kaegel, Jack O’Connell and Dave Van Dyck also were on the committee. A 75 percent vote was needed, which, in this instance, would be 12 votes.”

Ron Santo joins his teammates Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, and Billy Williams in the Hall of Fame.  I am thrilled for him.

1969 Cubs Banks Jenkins Santo WilliamsI’m pretty sure this would have been Santo’s reaction were he alive to hear the news.

Ron Santo Clicking His Heels

Congrats Ron Santo.

Until later friends…

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Jim Hendry Dismissed as Cubs GM

In case you haven’t heard, Jim Hendry was dismissed as the Chicago Cubs General Manager.  In other words, Jim Hendry got fired.  Why did Jim Hendry get fired? Because the Cubs have royally stunk for the past two years.  Jim Hendry did some great stuff in his career with the Cubs.  The Cubs won three division titles under him, and he signed such players as Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney.  However, he also signed Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley.  Between Sammy Sosa storming out under his lead, Soriano being the most lazy player in the league, Milton Bradley being Milton Bradley, and Kosuke Fukudome never living up to his hype, Jim Hendry had awful luck with outfielders.  Other than that, and the atrocious record the Cubs have had the past two seasons, Hendry was a decent GM.  I met him personally in Boston, and he was great.  Everyone in the organization has a lot of respect for him.  The team just didn’t win enough games under him.  He finished with a 749-748 career with the Cubs.  I’m glad he got to leave with a winning record (that’s better than the Cubs are going to do this season).  He also left with class.  After receiving notice of his dismissal, he stayed with the team long enough to trade away Fukudome (thank you), and sign some great young talent from the draft.  So…Happy Trails to you Jim. Thanks for the good memories.  Good luck with some American League team.

The question remains…So, now what?

Here are my suggestions to make this team a playoff contender, and eventually, a world series champion team.

1. Hire Andrew Friedman as General Manager

The Cubs need to hire Andrew Friedman

Remember when the Tampa Bay Rays were awful? That was before Andrew Friedman.  He has made them what they are.  He does not blow money on stupid contracts (like Alfonso Soriano’s).  He builds a good team around good young players.  This is exactly the kind of guy we need in Chicago.

2.  Get rid of Mike Quade and Hire Ryne Sandberg

Mike QuadeThis is not just me being bitter about my childhood hero getting passed over last year.  Quade did ok at the end of last season winning games that didn’t matter.  He has proven this season though that he does not have what it takes to manage a professional team.  He’s a great assistant coach.  He’d make a great bench coach, but not a manager.  He does not have a good grasp on how to manage a pitcher.  He alternately leaves pitchers in three batters too long, or takes them out an inning early.  His hiring was my biggest problem with Jim Hendry, and now that it is time for a new GM, I think it is time for a new manager.

Ryne Sandberg Signing an Autograph for me

Ryne Sandberg is the perfect candidate for the new Cubs manager.  They should sign him for ten years and let him work his magic.  Ryne Sandberg is one of the classiest guys to ever pick up a bat.  This picture is when he signed a ball for me while coaching for the Tennessee Smokies.  He should have been hired as the manager last year, but Jim Hendry went with the emotional decision…Mike Quade.  Ryno has proven that he can manage – and manage well.  He is the best second baseman of all time, and Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro would quickly stop making errors under this .989 lifetime fielding percentage player.  He also has a thing or two to teach these modern players that don’t want to sign autographs and are more concerned with making money than playing ball.  He is a fan favorite, and his hiring would rejuvenate the Cubs team and fan base.  Mr. Ricketts, make Ryne Sandberg the manager now.  Thank you.

3.  Do Whatever We Have to do to Get Rid of Alfonso Soriano and His Ridiculous Contract!

Alfonso Soriano is incredibly lazy

Alfonso Soriano has the worst work-ethic in all of professional sports. OK, that might be a bit harsh, but he at least makes the top 5.  He does not care at all.  He is fast, can knock the cover off the ball, and has a great arm.  Yet, he misses routine fly balls, and he averages 1 less base per hit than he should (Come on dude, you’re being paid 18 million. HUSTLE FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!!!!).  His contract his hamstringing this organization.  To quote Ted Williams, “If I was getting paid $30,000 [or 18 MILLION!!!] a year, the least I could do is hit .400.”  Let’s find a way to get rid of him, even if we have to eat a chunk of his contract.  We have Brett Jackson, and I’m sure we can afford another decent outfielder that hustles like Reed Johnson.

4.  Teach Carlos Marmol to Throw Strikes or Trade Him to Someone Who Believes He Can.

Carlos Marmol Throwing a Wicked SliderWhen Marmol is on his A-game, no one can touch his slider.  When he is not, he can’t throw a strike to someone with the strike zone the size of Andre the Giant.  Someone either needs to teach him to throw somewhere near the plate, or we need to trade him when his trade value is up.  Sorry Jim Hendry, but you never should have deemed him “untouchable.”

5.  Build Around the Young Guys – Especially Castro and Barney

Darwin Barney and Starlin CastroThese kids are going to be great.  Sign them to long contracts, and let’s build the team around them.  Don’t be concerned with all the errors they’ve made this season, they’ll get better defensively if Ryne Sandberg is their manager.  These guys have the potential of being a double-play combo on the same plane as other Cubs greats Tinker and Evers or Sandberg and Dunston.

6. Do Whatever We Can to Make Greg Maddux our Pitching Coach

Make Greg Maddux the Cubs Pitching Coach

Maddux is one of the best pitchers of the past 50 years.  He was dominant and brilliant.  Please bring him in.  If he were to coach the Cubs’ pitchers, I bet even Jeff Samardzija could be good.  The Cubs’ two greatest deficiencies this year are defense and pitching.  Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux could fix both of those in under a year – fact.

7.  Do not go after Albert Pujols

Jim Hendry hugging Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is an incredible player.  He will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but I’m begging the Cubs to not spend $30 mil/year on him.  With our luck, he will get injured and his numbers will decline – just like Alfonso Soriano.  Let’s take that $30mil/year and go after three (or four) young and talented players that have their best years ahead of them.

If my beloved Cubbies follow my advice, we will have winning seasons for the next ten years and at least 2 World Series appearances.  Let’s go Cubbies! Until later friends…

cubs-logo

This was the first time the Chicago Cubs played at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series.  I was super excited.  Cubs fans and Red Sox fans get along really well.  Up until the BoSox won the World Series in 2004, the Cubs and Red Sox fans had shared decades of misery.  I find it often to be the case that Cubs fans will cheer for the Red Sox and Red Sox fans will cheer for the Cubs, because their games rarely affect one another.  I found Fenway Park to be a very welcoming place.  There were many Cubs fans there, but there was no real trash-talking until people had had their third or fourth $8 beer in the fifth inning.  The atmosphere around Fenway is reminiscent of Wrigleyville, in that everyone for 5 blocks is excited about the ballgame.

Everyone was friendly and in a great mood (except for the heretics standing on the corner proclaiming that Jesus was coming back May 21st).  Dad and I got to the park early, and we went inside as soon as they opened the gates.  I was very excited to discover that we had made it in time to see the Cubs’ batting practice.  I was able to get right up next to the field in my attempt to get autographs, however, there were roped off sections and none of the players came near me.  I did get to meet Jim Hendry (General Manager of the Cubs).  I got my picture taken with him on my phone (which I lost in Philadelphia…bummer).  I abstained from asking him about signing Pujols next year, no need to jinx that just yet.

After batting practice, I went and found my dad and our seats.  We were seated 14 rows back in right field, behind the Cubs’ bullpen.  I enjoyed being behind the bullpen, because I got to see the different pitchers warming up.  The first pitch was thrown out by former Red Sox and Cubs pitcher Dennis Eckersley to the former Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.  That was really cool to see both of them.

The national anthem was sang by some 10 or 11 year old girl.  It was obvious that she was extremely nervous, but everyone cheered loudly for her, which was nice.  After that, it kinda went all down hill for the Cubs.  The Cubs play was just awful. The Cubs were incapable of throwing strikes, and for some odd reason they continued to put in pitchers that have historically been incapable of throwing strikes.  When they did throw strikes, the Red Sox hit the ball directly at the Green Monster (or over it).  Here is the hideous box score:

The Cubs hit pretty well (especially Jeff Baker who went 4-5 with 2 runs), but they couldn’t hit with guys on base.  Also they committed 4 errors (3 in one inning, yikes).  Despite the awful play of my Cubbies, I enjoyed the game.  I especially enjoyed the singing of Sweet Caroline in the 8th inning, which is a pretty sweet tradition at Fenway Park.  Although I have no idea why they sing “Sweet Caroline” every game at Fenway.  Do any of you?

I also enjoyed the four, mildly drunk fans three rows in front of me singing the Notre Dame fight song to Jeff Samardzija while he warmed up.  They also made many Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders comments towards him.  I cheer for my Cubbies faithfully, but I honestly think Jeff should have stuck with football.

This game – although a blowout of my beloved Cubbies – was a great start to this trip of a lifetime.  I had a blast, and I look forward to telling you about the rest of the trip too.

Until later friends…

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